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Cal State Channel Islands to Expand Credential Programs for Teachers

The Camarillo campus will train future educators in math, science, English and special education, starting in the fall.

March 31, 2003|Fred Alvarez | Times Staff Writer

Officials at Ventura County's first four-year public university are hoping to draw scores of future educators to the Camarillo campus with new credential programs aimed at meeting local teaching needs.

Cal State Channel Islands will add programs next fall for students who want to teach math, science, English or special-education classes. The campus, which opened seven months ago, already offers a multiple-subject credential for aspiring elementary school teachers.

The new programs are designed to meet teacher shortages in academic areas identified by local educators and to push the fledgling campus toward its goal of becoming a top-notch teaching preparation center for the region.

"We are basically looking to respond to the need for teachers in the community," said Dan Wakelee, the university's associate dean of faculty. "Even though things are tight, there are districts looking for people in these areas."

Wakelee said the university expects to have room for about 25 students next school year in the special-education credential program and about 50 students total for programs in math, science and English.

The campus also plans to add another 50 students to the multiple-subject credential program in the fall. There are 120 students now pursuing multiple-subject credentials at Channel Islands.

University leaders earlier this month kicked off an informational campaign on the credential programs, drawing nearly two dozen prospective teachers to the campus for a presentation titled, "So You Want to Be a Teacher."

Professor Joan Karp outlined the offerings for aspiring educators, telling them that Channel Islands was one of the first campuses to comply with a new law requiring California universities to align their teacher preparation programs with academic standards adopted for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

She discussed the practical experience to be gained at the Cal State campus, noting that students in the university's teaching credential program will be able to test their skills at the University Preparation School. The Camarillo charter school, which opened off campus last fall, serves as a training ground for new teachers while providing an innovative educational environment for hundreds of county youngsters.

Karp also said that the Channel Islands programs are designed to give students a range of knowledge, preparing them to use technology and to teach youngsters who speak little English or have special needs.

"It is our belief that when you leave our program, you be prepared to teach all of the students you will find in your classrooms," Karp said.

Sign up 22-year-old Alison Johnston of Ventura.

The 1999 Buena High School graduate has teaching in her blood. Her father was a teacher for 20 years in the Oxnard area and now is an administrator for the Oxnard Union High School District.

Johnston plans to follow in his footsteps, preparing to enter the university's teacher preparation program after graduating from the Camarillo extension campus of Cal State Northridge in May with a sociology degree.

"I feel really positive about being a teacher -- a lot of who I am is a result of the teachers that I had," said Johnston, who wants to teach in elementary school. "I feel like it's something I can be good at. I think I can really make a difference in children's lives."

University planners have been busy laying the groundwork for the teacher prep program.

Earlier this month, the university learned that its multiple-subject credential program had earned initial accreditation from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Professor Lillian Vega Castaneda, who is among those spearheading development of the education curriculum, said she expects the new credential programs to follow suit.

"We want to be the best teacher preparation center in this part of the state," said Castaneda, who helped launch a similar program at Cal State San Marcos.

The deadline to apply for credential programs is April 18. The university will hold an informational session Tuesday from 4 to 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 437-8953.

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